Thursday, December 11th, 2014

LibraryThing Holiday Card Exchange

cardexchange-fullWe’ve just opened the first annual LibraryThing Holiday Card Exchange. Inspired by the “ALA Think Tank,” which was inspired by Reddit, we thought we’d try it out here.

The idea is simple:

  • Mail a Holiday card to a random LibraryThing member.
  • You’ll get one from another member. Only that member will see your address.
  • You can mail a hand-made or store card. Add a note to personalize it.

Sign-up closes Monday, December 15 at 1:00 PM Eastern. We’ll inform you of your matches in an hour or so. Send your cards out soon after.

» LibrayThing Holiday Card Exchange

See also the Talk post about it.

Labels: card exchange, holiday

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Holiday Store: Everything off! New shirts! Totes!

store-screen-600

We’ve just debuted a fresh new “store” and new LibraryThing swag. New items include attractive v-neck t-shirts for women and men, and tote bags. We’ve also lowered our prices dramatically until January 6.*

Rather than having me blather on about it, why don’t you just go visit our new store?

After that, come tell us what swag we’re missing on Talk.


*Epiphany, Little Christmas, the night before Orthodox Christmas or the day after the Twelfth day of Christmas—and doesn’t your loved one deserve twelve LibraryThing t-shirts?

Labels: gifts, holiday, sale, stickers, teeshirts, tshirts, Uncategorized

Friday, December 5th, 2014

December Early Reviewers batch is live!

The December 2014 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 111 titles this month, with a grand total of 2,375 copies to give out.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Then request away!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, December 29th at 6pm Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Tundra Books Palgrave Macmillan Prufrock Press
Bethany House Henry Holt and Company Hollingale Books
Information Today, Inc. Taylor Trade Publishing MSI Press
Candlewick Press Gotham Books McFarland
Mythos Press Five Rivers Publishing Random House
Spiegel & Grau Black Threads Press Orca Book Publishers
Grey Sun Press Coffeetown Press Sfuzzi Publishing
Jupiter Gardens Press Medallion Press Del Rey
Kaylie Jones Books Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Raincloud Press
Crown Publishing Bantam Dell JournalStone
Human Kinetics Whitepoint Press Raven Reads
ForeEdge Booktrope Books to Go Now
Recorded Books HighBridge Audio BookViewCafe
Open Books Ballantine Books

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Welcome Ammar

We’re pleased to introduce Ammar Abu-Yasein (member LT_Ammar) to the LibraryThing gang!

Ammar will be working as a developer from across the pond (in Jordan), mostly on LibraryThing.com, developing new features and improving old ones. His first feature was improved export. Say hello to Ammar on his profile, or join us in the “Welcome Ammar!” Talk topic.

About Ammar

Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, Ammar has loved computers and video games from an early age. He graduated with a degree in Computer Science from the University of Toledo in 2011, and a year later he joined a strong and vibrant IT community in Amman, Jordan. Ammar has spent countless hours building all types of software, from mobile to web apps. He’s excited to join the LibraryThing team and develop further skills.

When he’s not in a staring contest with his monitor, Ammar enjoys picnics with his family, swimming, making money, and of course, reading! His favorite authors include Stephen King, Steve McConnel, and J.K. Rowling, respectively. Ammar dreams of one day owning a helicopter (who doesn’t?)!

Labels: employees

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Cataloging improvement III: Better “Sort character” support

Short version: We’ve added more tools for specifying how titles should sort.

Background: LibraryThing has been sorting “The Road” under “R” not “T”, and allowing members to change where the sorting “starts” since 2007. Mostly, the system gets it right in the first place, especially if you use library data, whose records contain information on “non-filing characters” (within the 245 field, second indicator, of course). If it doesn’t, super-knowledeable members use the “pipe trick,” changing a title like Die Fleledermaus to Die ||Fledermaus, to mark the start of sorting explicitly.

Bringing Sort Characters into the Open. To improve understanding and use of the feature, and to help troubleshoot when LibraryThing choses poorly, we’ve decided to expose the “sort character” (a.k.a. “non-filing characters,” “sort offset,” etc.).*

You can now add the field to one of your “Your Books” views:

cataloglist

Edit and manual entry now get a tiny drop-down menu (on the right), so you can see and change the sort character number. (We aimed for inconspicuous enough not to frighten newbies, but not entirely hidden.)

bookedit

We’ve also improved the “pipe trick” by making the pipes invisible under normal circumstances. For example, here’s a book in “Your Books.”

pipe1

And here it is, with pipes, when you double-click to edit.

pipe2

In practice, pipes always disable and/or override the sort-chracter number.

Come talk about this feature on talk.


* I asked for help naming the feature. The geeky-cutest was definitely Chris Holland’s “alphabit.”

Labels: new feature, new features, small libraries, Uncategorized

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Cataloging improvement II: Date selectors

Yesterday I added calendar “date selectors” to many of the places you can enter dates into LibraryThing. The selectors are optional—you can always just type instead. But they may come in handy.

Click here.
calendar_1

And get a date selector.
calendar_2

Along with this, and along with the recent export improvements, a number of important long-running date bugs have been closed. We look forward to help identifying and squashing what remains.

Come discuss on Talk.

Technical note: We used jQuery UI’s datepicker.

Labels: new feature, new features, small libraries

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Cataloging improvement I: Better export

filtering options

The New Export Filtering Options

We’ve just released a new and improved export feature. Check it out here.

Major improvements include:

  • Export filtering. So you can export only books added since a certain date, books with a certain tag. You can also use the new search syntax to control your export even more precisely.
  • More fields. The new tab-delimited and JSON fields now include 41 exported fields, up from 16 or 29 in the old export formats. Essentially all book data should now be included in the export.
  • Richer fields. Flat files, such as tab-delimited text, have a problem with “multidimensional data,” such as secondary authors and their roles. The new format attempts to represent this data more completely, separating sub-values with pipe (|) characters.
  • JSON format. Export is now available in JSON format, a lightweight data format much used by programmers.
  • Better MARC options. We’ve improve the MARC options, for members interested in exporting to a library-industry system.
  • Not being partially broken. Always a good feature!

Try it out. Go ahead and try out the new export.

Discuss. Come discuss the new export features on Talk.

Thanks. Export was re-engineered by Chris, Ammar* and me (Tim). It is based on the improvements Mike made to “Your Books” searching, and indeed the JSON format is effectively the format that the search system now indexes. (This will prove useful for troubleshooting problems with members.)

Screen shots

main options
marc options

UPDATE: We’ve added an explicit Excel format.


* Who is Ammar? Stick around, we’ll tell you soon.

Labels: new feature, new features, small libraries

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

SantaThing 2014: Play Secret Santa with us!

We’re pleased to announce that the eighth annual SantaThing is here at last!

What’s SantaThing? SantaThing is Secret Santa for LibraryThing members.

Done this before? SantaThing sign up is now open!

How it works

You pay into the SantaThing system (choose from $15–$50). You play Santa to a LibraryThing member we pick for you, by selecting books for them. Another Santa does the same for you, in secret. LibraryThing does the ordering, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving books!

Sign up once or thrice, for yourself or someone else. If you sign up for someone without a LibraryThing account, make sure to mention what kinds of books they like, so their Santa can choose wisely.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others.

Important dates

UPDATE: SantaThing sign-ups have been extended!

Sign-ups close MONDAY, December 1st at 9pm Eastern. By Tuesday morning, we’ll notify you via profile comment who your Santee is, and you can start picking books.

Picking closes Monday, December 8th at 12pm Eastern. As soon as the picking ends, the ordering begins, and we’ll get all the books out to you as soon as we can.

» Go sign up to become a Secret Santa now!

What’s new this year?

Every year we tweak SantaThing a little. This year we’re happy to have Portland’s own Sherman’s Books & Stationery, Powell’s, Book Depository, and Amazon (including national ones) as our booksellers. You can choose to have your books picked and sent from any of these stores at any and all price points.

We’re also please to extend the Kindle Only option to all members, regardless of location. So long as your Kindle is registered on Amazon.com (not .co.uk, .ca, etc.), you can elect to receive your SantaThing gifts as Kindle ebooks. See more information about Kindle and SantaThing here.

Shipping news

Some of our booksellers are able to offer free shipping, and some are not. Depending on your bookseller of choice, you may receive $5 less in books, to cover shipping costs. You can find details about shipping costs and holiday ordering deadlines for each of our booksellers here on the SantaThing Help page.

Go sign up now!

Questions? Comments?

See the SantaThing Help page further details and FAQ.

Feel free to ask your questions over on this Talk topic. As always, you’re welcome to email us at info@librarything.com.

Labels: santathing

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

AllHallowsThing 2014 Winners!

Thanks to everyone who joined in on our SECOND annual AllHallowsThing contest! Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I love getting to see your creativity shine. If you’d like to take a look at all our submissions this year, you can find them in the AllHallowsThing2014 tag gallery. The LT staff judges have spoken, and, without further ado, I am proud to present our winners:

Costumes

Grand Prize

I love all the detail and effort that went into this Gandalf costume. It’s both adorable and impressive, complete with robes, hat, satchel, staff, and let’s not forget the beard. You can see another snapshot of it here, which shows that orb on the top of his staff glows. Amazing work!

2nd Place

This costume looks both head- and heart-warming—a-squared knitted the hat and elf ears. Those of you with good memories (or deep knowledge of Harry Potter trivia) will appreciate the S.P.E.W. button, sock, and pillow-case dyed with tea, to match Dobby’s tea-towel garb early in the series.

3rd Place

What a great family ensemble! We’ve got Willy Wonka, Charlie taking a ride in the glass elevator, a lollipop girl, and tiny Violet as a tiny blueberry. Wonka’s coat and hat are spot-on, and Charlie certainly seems to be enjoying himself. I don’t know what was used to make the elevator, but it looks great! If there’s a golden ticket in that Wonka bar, can I come tour the factory with you guys?

Pumpkins

Grand Prize

Cinderella‘s carriage by emperatrix

Starting in high school, where I—like many American teenagers—read The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway’s face has been a familiar one. And it translates well into the pumpkin medium, too! I’m particularly impressed with the way different “shades” of pumpkin were used, by carving not quite all the way through the pumpkin. Great job!

2nd Place

Painted all silver and gold, but retaining it’s pumpkin shape, this is what I always imagined Cinderella’s carriage looked like, as it whisked her off to the ball. I love the gold wreath wheels!

3rd Place

As a lover of both cats and the inspiration Kitten’s First Full Moon, this pumpkin has a special place in my heart. It’s even got a moon hanging out above the kitten!

Honorable Mentions

The Scrolls of Zndaria pumpkin by zndariasj features some truly excellent carving skills. Well done! I’d also like to commend LynnCoulter on her Audrey II piece. Little Shop of Horrors is one of my favorite musicals, and Audrey II looks great!

Thanks, everyone!

To all our contestants, thanks so much for joining in! Every one of you did excellent work (and hopefully had some fun in the process), and I look forward to seeing what bookish hauntings you come up with next year!

To our winners, congratulations! Look for a profile comment from me shortly with instructions for claiming your prizes!

Labels: AllHallowsThing, contests

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Better “Your Books” searching

Back in September, we debuted the beta version of a new “Your Books” search system, based on Elasticsearch. The new Your Books search has now replaced the old, and it’s live on the site for all members.

The new system brings with it a number of improvements, including:

  • It’s much faster.
  • No more “reindexing” process—you’ll never see that green “loading” bar when searching your books again.
  • It handles accents and other “special” characters much better; you can search for “resume” or “résumé”, etc.
  • The search syntax is much expanded (see below), allowing for explicit AND, OR and NOT searches, as well as term “nesting.”
  • Searches are echoed back with fields and operators specially marked, so you can see if the system understood the search as intended.
  • Hyphens are normalized, meaning a search for “science-fiction” will return the same results as “science fiction”.
  • The system allows for “stemming,” so a search for “automobiles” or “singing” would also return results for “automobile” and “sings”. You can see which fields are stemmed and which are not here on the wiki page.

Syntax

Along with our new Your Books search, we’ve revamped the search syntax, which now allows for searches that include operators like AND, NOT, and OR, as well as field-specific searching. You can now search all of Your Books for things like:

  • history AND NOT art (all books with “history” and not “art” somewhere in the data)
  • tag:history AND NOT art (all books tagged with “history,” and not tagged with “art”)
  • hist* (all books with words beginning with “hist” somewhere in the data)
  • (history AND (greek OR roman)) (all books with “history” and either “greek” or “roman” somewhere in the data)
  • review:“” (books with no review)

For a full rundown of the advanced syntax now at your disposal in Your Books search, see the wiki page. There, you’ll find lists of all operators you can use, fields you can search directly, etc.

You’ll notice that, once you’re done with a search, the same ‘X’ the upper-left of Your Books will clear and remove your search. Next to that ‘X’, you can now see the full details of your search, written out as it was interpreted. So, a search for tag:history AND NOT art should display Search: tag: history AND tag: NOT art.

If you’d rather not type out the names of fields you’d like to search, the drop-down menu next to “Search” is still available. The default is, as always, “All fields.”

What else is new?

We’ve also extended our new and improved search abilities to searching the books of your fellow group-members, your connections, and Legacy Libraries. Wondering who in our Legacy Libraries shares your love of The Hobbit, who else in the 75 Books Challenge is a Frankenstein fan, or who among your LibraryThing Connections has a copy of Ivanhoe you can borrow? You can find all three of these on one page, here, where you can switch between them using the tabs at the top of the page.

As mentioned above, new search is now live on the site and has fully replaced the old. Your Books search should be working much more smoothly and efficiently now, so let us know what you think! If you’re having any trouble, feel free to post your questions in this Talk topic.

We’d like to thank all the members who’ve been testing the system, but especially the clever and indefatigable bnielsen.

Labels: new feature, new features, search, small libraries